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Chapter Summary

Zhang's essay is full of self-congratulations about his spontaneous production of a spectacle and his successful mingling of the illusory and the real. The mystic mixture of dream and theater, and his capricious play with theatrical spectacle and reality, rendered the event memorable for Zhang Dai, a sensibility shared by his fellow literati of the late Ming. As quoted in the epigraph, a Hangzhou native and one of the commentators on Shengming zaju Shen Shijun claims that embedded theatricals in fictional narratives are pregnant with meaning. Xi is both entertaining and yet potentially confusing for a modern reader. The author has presented the early modern Chinese concept of theatricality and analyzed early modern fiction in its original theoretical context. To emphasize the importance of xi, early modern Chinese novelists and fiction critics readily associated it with the powerful movement of authenticity.

Keywords: early modern China; theatrical imagination; theatrical novel; Zhang



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